Some thinking on creative and transformative education

A. Tension and provisional response

“After training and experience in their original fields or specialties, many professionals are ready to extend their reach so as to take well-researched and thoughtful roles in teaching and collaborating with others to be creative and transformative in diverse settings…”  (personal notes on creative and transformative education)

“A few years ago an experienced facilitator admonished me not to think too much about how to support the translation into everyday work and life of tools and processes introduced in a workshop setting. The advice was to the effect that tools and processes are taken up only if they are introduced in actual work settings….”  PT, from

Provisional response to tension:  There is a role for creative and transformative education not based in specific fields or their specific commitments because:

a)    people do not get enough opportunities to not simply continue along previous lines

b)   people are often ready to shift fields

c)    students can take the advice about translation into account in their efforts in their own specific fields

B.  Studios (broadly construed) have a central place in creative and transformative education (or, more generally, in personal and professional development).

In studios, people learn to “take yourself seriously”—to align the 4Hs (see below)—and from that secure base (Bowlby 1988):

a) make use of new perspectives about thinking, cognition, creativity, collaboration…

b) venture out into wider engagements, return to take stock & revise, then venture out again.


C.  Three kinds of studio

1. A space for the practitioner or artist or professional to be focused on one’s own creative or generative work.

(The tools are all there and distractions are reduced [as in “don’t open your email in the morning”].  “Tools” here is metaphorical—the toolkit may include many of the creative habits and other processes that help in Taking Yourself Seriously.)

2. A space where the practitioner or artist or professional works with apprentices.

(Taking the step of recruiting apprentices is a further step in Taking Yourself Seriously, as is designing how to supervise them.)

3. A space where teams work together on a project.

D. Collaborative Explorations: Fourth kind of studio?

“an extension of Project-Based Learning and related approaches to education in which participants address a scenario or case in which the problems are not well defined, shaping their own directions of inquiry and developing their skills as investigators and prospective teachers (in the broadest sense of the word).” From CE Prospectus:

Three aspects:

1. centers on interactions in small groups over a delimited period of time, designed to sustain for each participant the face-to-face PBL experience of re-engagement with oneself as an avid learner and inquirer in their own projects.

2. space in which collaborators “scaffold” the efforts of current and potential collaborators and are scaffolded by others (see

3. process of reevaluation to “build confidence to know what one wants to inquire into” (FS/JS) and what one wants to take seriously (see previous post)


Bowlby, J. (1988). A Secure Base. New York, Basic Books.

Taylor, P. J. and J. Szteiter (2012). Taking Yourself Seriously: Processes of Research and Engagement. Arlington, MA, The Pumping Station.

About Peter J. Taylor
Peter Taylor is a Professor at the University of Massachusetts Boston where he teaches and directs undergraduate and graduate programs on critical thinking, reflective practice, and science-in-society. His research and writing focuses on the complexity of environmental and health sciences in their social context, incl. Unruly Complexity: Ecology, Interpretation, Engagement (U. Chicago Press, 2005) and Nature-nurture? No (2014, On reflective practice, see Taking Yourself Seriously: Processes of Research & Engagement (with J. Szteiter, 2012,

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